Birthday Celebrations

A look at the big-name properties using milestone anniversaries to launch new initiatives and bring the public in on the celebration In today's rapidly shifting pop culture environment, it's a rare occurrence worth

April 6, 2018

Birthday Celebrations

A look at the big-name properties using milestone anniversaries to launch new initiatives and bring the public in on the celebration

In today's rapidly shifting pop culture environment, it's a rare occurrence worth celebrating when a property turns 10 years old, as Cartoon Network's Powerpuff Girls do this year. But when a character or brand turns 40, 50, or even 80, it's definitely time to break out the cake.

While cake is nice, a milestone anniversary also is the perfect time to revitalize a classic brand with new products, new marketing initiatives, and even new entertainment. Here are just some of the properties celebrating anniversaries in 2008 and 2009.


Mickey Mouse

The licensing icon who started it all got his break in November 1928 in his first animated short, "Steamboat Willy." So far, Pez candy has released a limited-edition 80th anniversary tin with three dispensers depicting Mickey throughout the years, as well as a commemorative poster. But don't be surprised to learn about more tie-ins as the year goes on.


Hasbro's preschool brand turns 80 by looking primarily toward the future. New products in its

anniversary year include a lifelike electronic dinosaur and the Dance Cam preschool music and dance system. The brand's iconic Mr. Potato Head will be marking the anniversary with an 80-piece Celebration Spud, which comes with a birthday cake.


Lone Ranger

The Western icon will be celebrating his anniversary with new limited-edition product, including "The Lone Ranger 75th Anniversary Collector's Edition DVD Box Set," which rolls out to retail this fall. Rights holder Entertainment Rights also is planning 75th anniversary events to take place across the country.



Entertainment Rights' Friendly Ghost turns 60 in 2009, and plans already are under way for the celebration. Aside from new licensed products from American Greetings (greeting cards, Halloween 2008), MJC (men's boxers and loungewear), NTD for Canada (junior underwear and loungewear), and Compedia (CD-ROM games), Casper will celebrate with a new classic DVD collectible series (launching August 2008), a new style guide, and a new CGI animated TV series from Moonscoop and France's TFI (launching globally in 2009).


The incredibly popular car racing league celebrated the 60th anniversary of its first race and the 50th anniversary of its most popular race, the Daytona 500, in the same week earlier this year. Sixtieth anniversary races will be held throughout the year, and NASCAR teamed with Bruce Rossmeyer, CEO of 15 Harley-Davidson dealerships, to create 60 custom motorcycles commemorating the anniversary. Each motorcycle costs more than $48,000 and includes a NASCAR leather jacket, race tickets, and other limited edition collectibles and perks.


The venerable crossword board game will receive a new edition from Hasbro timed with the anniversary called the Diamond Anniversary Edition. Available this summer, it features a redesigned game board that keeps the letter tiles in place, a rotating base, and curved tile holders so players can keep their letters a secret. The new game board also folds for easy portability.


Fisher-Price Little People

Mattel's preschool brand's iconic playset inhabitors turn 50, and Fisher-Price will help celebrate the occasion with several retail events and special products.

Paddington Bear

Beloved British children's property Paddington celebrates the publication of the first Paddington book in 1958 with an all-new book by the original author,

Paddington Here and Now,

as well as a new range of products from Rainbow Designs and licensor Copyrights Group, a Chorion company. Celebratory events are scheduled throughout the year, and Warner Bros. recently signed on to produce a live-action Paddington film.


It's been 50 years since Belgium's Peyo gave the world these tiny blue favorites, and Smurfs have been celebrating in the early part of the year with a European promotional tour, while Accessory Network Group will produce a coordinated collection of Smurfs products including fashion bags, backpacks, luggage, small leather goods, back-to-school, and social stationery to be sold in mid-tier, department, and specialty stores beginning fall 2008.

Sleeping Beauty

The classic Disney animated film turns 50 in 2009, but the celebration starts this year with the release of the 50th anniversary DVD and Blu-Ray in October, making it the first classic Disney animated film to be released in the high-definition format. This summer, Mattel will release a range of Sleeping Beauty dolls as part of their Disney Princess collection, and a deluxe castle playset will follow in October.


Clifford, The Big Red Dog

Represented by Scholastic Media, Clifford is celebrating his 45th publishing anniversary with new plush from Play Along's Child Guidance line, as well as retail promotions in Japan that feature exclusive displays, costumed character appearances and special events for children.

Easy-Bake Oven

As it celebrated its 45th birthday this spring, Hasbro's beloved toy brought back its classic Easy-Bake Oven and Snack Center. Just like the original Easy-Bake Oven first introduced in 1963, the Easy-Bake Oven and Snack Center uses a light bulb to create tasty cakes, brownies and cookies.


Hot Wheels

Mattel's iconic toy can brand kicked off its 40th anniversary celebration earlier this year with the unveiling of a custom jeweled 1:64-scale Hot Wheels car, designed by celebrity jeweler Jason of Beverly Hills to commemorate the production of the 4 billionth Hot Wheels vehicle. The car will be auctioned for charity later this year. Other events include a Designer's Challenge, featuring new designs from major automotive carmakers, and a cross-country road trip kicking off this August, bringing special events to raceways across the country.


Creative Properties' bear with the missing button celebrated the 1968 publishing of his original book this spring with a new line of products from Russ' Applause brand and the release of the Corduroy 40th Anniversary Edition book from Penguin. On Oct. 2, children and adults nationwide will read Corduroy for Jumpstart's Read for the Record, a campaign designed to bring attention to the importance of early education.

Sesame Street

Big Bird and friends celebrate a milestone as preschool series "Sesame Street" turns 40 in 2009. Sesame Workshop hasn't started outlining any specific plans for the anniversary yet, but execs told

License! Global

that special events will occur throughout next year. In the meantime, it's launching a new direct-to-DVD film entitled

Abby in Wonderland

in September 2008.



Paws Inc. is celebrating Garfield's 30th birthday with a new movie and TV series. In August 2008, Garfield stars in a direct-to-DVD film, "Garfield's Fun Fest." A new TV series, "The Garfield Show" (Dargaud Marina) will debut on France 3 this fall and will be available for worldwide distribution beginning early 2009.


Angelina Ballerina

While the famous dancing mouse celebrates the 1983 publication of her original book this year, the big event happens in 2009: the new CGI animated series Angelina Ballerina: The Next Steps on PBS Kids and an accompanying new consumer products program from licensor HIT Entertainment.

My Little Pony

1983 was a busy year for toys! Hasbro's My Little Pony also is celebrating the big 2-5 this year and kicked off with an initiative called "The My Little Pony Project: 25 Ponies for 25 Years." Hasbro created 25 custom ponies and will have them on display at a gallery show in New York in September, where the ponies will be auctioned for charity. The 25th anniversary also will be celebrated in the Hasbro toy line this year.

Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles

Licensor 4Kids Entertainment already has set the wheels in motion to make 2009's Turtles anniversary one to remember. The 25th anniversary "shell-ebration" will kick off in early 2009 and will run through October of that year, targeting alumni fans (ages 18 to 35), as well as new fans (ages 4 to 11). The campaign will involve large consumer and media celebrations in key cities and a mobile tour component, designed to raise awareness and to give back to the community.

Cabbage Patch Kids

Licensor 4Kids Entertainment is in the middle of a year-long Cabbage Patch celebration, which has included a cross-branded Kid with Carvel and a promotional program at the ice cream shops. Jakks Pacific also is planning on launching a line of Classic Kids, faithful reproductions of the original 1983 dolls. It all leads up to a Sept. 20 birthday party at BabyLand General Hospital in Georgia, home of the Cabbage Patch Kids.

Trivial Pursuit

Hasbro recently bought outright the rights to this classic game, and it'll be celebrating the milestone with the release of the Trivial Pursuit 25th Anniversary Edition in fall 2008. The special edition features easy, medium, and hard questions on each card.


Veggie Tales

The No. 1 name in faith-based entertainment celebrates 15 years with a special anniversary re-release of its first video title, "Where's God When I'm S-Scared," on DVD this summer, as well as a 10-week live tour and new consumer products including the first VeggieTales Bible from Zondervan, plush from Pint Size, and publishing from Random House that will hit shelves beginning spring of 2009.


Powerpuff Girls

Cartoon Network's girl heroes celebrate their first decade with an international flair. A series of consumer events will roll out across the globe to regenerate awareness of the brand with young girls. The property will continue to develop as a fashion and lifestyle brand and will grow in popularity across Europe and the United Kingdom as new global deals are signed with top high street retailers such as H&M. Plans for the United states market are still being finalized, but will include anniversary-themed merchandise and programming in 2009.

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